TheIslamic Slave Trade began centuries before the better documentedAtlantic slave trade, and its purposes were quite different. Althoughsome slaves were put to work in the fields, they were valued more asitems of extravagant leisure. The Muslim elite used them as guardsand soldiers, and musicians, and simply to show how rich they were.Some slaves in Islam reached highranking positions in the army. A Turkish slave led the army thatdefeated a Mongol invasion of Egypt in 1260 and another Ethiopianslave became a governor of a province.
Many of these male slaves werecastrated, otherwise known as eunuchs. The eunuchs were used to guardfemale dormitories and private rooms. Many were governors andgenerals. One black eunuch was appointed as the Chief Administratorof Mecca and Medina.
(Hochschild, 2004).DuringRoman times, slaves came from internal sources, the slave populationwas occasionally recruited from the outside when new territory wasconquered. This was not possible in the Islamic empire becauseenslavement of their own people was banned. The result was a massiveimportation of slaves from the outside.(Lewis, 1990). The slave population ofthe Islamic world was recruited from various nations includingCentral and Eastern Europe where slaves there were generally known as’Slavs’.
These white slaves were brought to the Crimean Peninsula,located south of the Ukrainian region of Kherson and west of theRussian region of Kuban, and, then shipped to slave markets inIstanbul and other Turkish cities. This trade came to an end when theRussians attained Crimea in 1783. The Islamic empire, deprived ofmost of their white slaves, turned more to Africa, which through the19th century came to provide the majority of slaves used in Muslimcountries. (Lewis, 1992). Theenslavement of Africans for production was tried in Iraq but proved adisaster. It provoked results whichlasted for 14 years, up until 883, this ended the mass exploitationof black labour in the Arab world.
Not until the 19th century didslavery for production re-emerge in a Muslim country one black slaveswere used on plantations to produce goods that were exported towestern markets. (M`bokolo, 1998).